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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine performance of the 1878/80 version in pretty good sound
This is a live 2011 performance of what is nowadays the most commonly performed version of the Romantic Symphony, the 1878/80 version in the Nowak edition (incorporating some relatively minor modifications made by the composer in 1886 for a New York performance conducted by Anton Seidl).

Haitink, now over 80 years of age, has been conducting Bruckner for...
Published on 3 Mar. 2013 by Darcy

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bruckner in the Living-Room
Having been impressed by Haitink's recent surveys of Bruckner's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies with various German orchestras, it was time to chance my arm one more time by listening to his live performance of the Fourth with the London Symphony Orchestra. In doing so, I was deeply conscious that his expositions from 1965 and two decades later are well played, conscientious...
Published 22 months ago by Bernard Michael O'Hanlon


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine performance of the 1878/80 version in pretty good sound, 3 Mar. 2013
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This is a live 2011 performance of what is nowadays the most commonly performed version of the Romantic Symphony, the 1878/80 version in the Nowak edition (incorporating some relatively minor modifications made by the composer in 1886 for a New York performance conducted by Anton Seidl).

Haitink, now over 80 years of age, has been conducting Bruckner for several decades. His latest recording of this work has something of that "unhurried majesty" that Deryck Cooke in the Gramophone used to describe Karl Bohm's 1973 performance with the VPO, running to a total time of 69 minutes.

Whether Haitink has anything particularly new to say over his previous recordings with the RCO and VPO I cannot say, as I do not own those recordings; given his reputation, probably not. What emerges here, however, is a conductor who is at ease in handling transitions, builds climaxes steadily with an ear for maintaining balances, and enjoys the commitment of a great orchestra.

The opening horn solo is delivered broadly and mellifluously, setting the tone of a performance where beauty, mystery and spaciousness go hand in hand. The first fortissimo for orchestra arrives in weighty and authoritative fashion, yet it is relatively relaxed compared with Karajan's forceful stride or Jochum's impetuosity. It's like a rolling wave of sound, with all instrumental departments distinct yet balanced within the rich texture, the brass full toned but not dominating. The movement is allowed to unfold naturally with a cumulative rise in tension. Of note is that part of the development leading up to the opening fortissimo's restatement and the ensuing chorale where Haitink and his players evoke a wondrous wooded landscape with playing of the utmost delicacy and refinement.

As one might expect, Haitink is restrained in the andante. Rattle and the BPO, for example, strike a more melancholic note, but arguably Haitink's restraint and flowing tempo - the quasi allegretto marking being given due observance - are appropriate in conveying the elusiveness of this music.

There have been fleeter, more exhilarating scherzos (eg Tennstedt and the BPO), but, lets face it, few top rank conductors and orchestras mismanage this movement. The LSO is in commanding form.

The performance of the final movement is one of the stronger, more cohesive versions I have heard. It is consistently paced. On those occasions in the main body of the movement when the the music's gentle flow is forcefully interrupted, Haitink's pacing is deliberate but resolute, thus providing a more (than usual) seamless build-up to the great coda.

Of course, in this latest offering of the Romantic, Haitink does not have those unmistakable horns of the VPO - in Bohm's recording, the horns' accents in the chorale of the first movement are thrilling, as is their reannouncement of the work's opening theme in the introduction of the final movement. But, he does have the LSO, whose playing is one of the chief glories of this performance. Quite apart from the qualities of its individual sections (for example, warm and silken strings, and powerful yet velvety brass), it's the refinement and beautifully blended nature of the LSO's sound that commands one's attention.

A word on the sound of the recording which has attracted some attention. Barbican Hall has a difficult, boxy acoustic, notwithstanding the improvements that were made around the turn of the millennium. However, what I heard on this disc was a fairly significant advance on what was produced, for example, when LSO Live recorded Bruckner's 9th under Davis. The soundstage is quite wide, there is a pleasing warmth to the sound (it's not bright or shrill), there is ample bass, and a wide dynamic range (though I would put this down primarily to the conductor). I didn't detect much difference between the standard cd and sacd stereo layers, but the latter provides a little more depth in perspective. On the whole, the sound is pretty good.

In short, I would recommend this as a highly accomplished, if conservatively minded, performance of the Romantic Symphony.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true Brucknerian, this recording is sensational, 21 Nov. 2011
Bernard Haitink really knows how to conduct Bruckner. He and the LSO perform this work effortlessly and the result is quite breath-taking. The brass, woodwind and strings melt into each other and really relax into to the vivid sonorities that Bruckner is so well-known for. The horns in particular are quite exquisite. If you want a truly exceptional performance of Bruckner's Fourth then this is it.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Precise and passionate - this is Haitink at his best, 21 Nov. 2011
This recording is definitely one of the best classical albums I've bought this year. The four lyrical movements are played with precision and care by the LSO. The brass sound in particular is beautifully rich and warm, hats off to the horn player! The conductor, Bernard Haitink, commands the orchestra and shapes the sound with ease. An absolute pleasure.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bruckner in the Living-Room, 23 July 2013
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Having been impressed by Haitink's recent surveys of Bruckner's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies with various German orchestras, it was time to chance my arm one more time by listening to his live performance of the Fourth with the London Symphony Orchestra. In doing so, I was deeply conscious that his expositions from 1965 and two decades later are well played, conscientious and dull as dishwater.

Bruckner's Fourth, above all, seeks to strip away the detritus of modernity, thereby reverting mankind to a realm where we - like our ancestors - are liegemen to signs, portents and totemic powers, be they benevolent or otherwise. If you have ever been out in the forest by yourself - yes, completely and utterly by yourself - roofed by constellations at night, bereft of mobile-coverage and coffee machines alike and surrounded by any number of critters that can send you to Boot Hill, this dynamic will be familiar to you. Goodbye lip-gloss and heated car-seats - hello Otherness. Your frequent-flyer points: you won't need them.

Yet again Haitink fails signally to evoke any genuine terror and awe from this miraculous symphony. Not once was I transported back to Megalithic times where stone rings were raised to propitiate powers-that-be and gods illuminated all phenomena. Karajan and Celibidache made four recordings of the Fourth between them and each of them evokes 1 Million BC (alas, without the young Raquel Welch in train). Haitink is no hierophant: here is exhibit number three. Nor is his cause served by a run-of-the-mill recording and an orchestra which is highly competent and no more.

If you are seeking a thoughtful and polished Bruckner Fourth, your journey ends here. Settle into your arm-chair. Open a red. There are worse ways to while away an hour. Or alternatively, stride into the forest. Something old and new awaits you.
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Bruckner: Symphony No. 4
Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 by Bernard Haitink
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